Plain Wine Volume 3: The Penguin Edition

This month’s selection features Domaine Rietsch from Alsace, Marto Wine from Rheinhessen and Claus Preisinger from Burgenland.

Illustration by Anna Vu, @goodwinecrapdrawing

Domaine Rietsch
2014 Cremant d’Alsace

Chardonnay, Auxerrois, Pinot Gris
Alsace, France

Jean-Pierre Rietsch and his sister Annelise took over the Alsace winery from their parents, which only started just to make wine in the seventies. Before it was a traditional farm growing different grains and tobacco. Since 2009 they are fully certified organic and have tried making more and more natural wine. There are a few outstanding low intervention winemakers in the region and Jeanne-Pierre is definitely one of them.

This Cremant is an absolute lively and unique sparkling wine comparable to many of the best Champagnes out there. The base wine from the 2014 harvest sits for 12 months in barrels is then added with the 2015 juice to the bottle to start the secondary fermentation and make it into sparkling wine which means no sugar, yeast or sulfites are added. It’s easy to pair these apple and citrus aromas with many appetizers, but this should also be great with a lighter Japanese dinner.

Marto Wines
2017 White

Würzer, Faber, Bacchus, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Riesling
Rheinhessen, Germany

If somebody has learned winemaking at places like Matassa (very much hyped) and Gut Oggau (crazily hyped) you can understand that they must be equally hyped. Martin Otto Wörner, who is making wine at his parents winery has apparently learned a lot from those famous teachers. Until now he has only made a Riesling and the cuvée which is featured in this month’s box. Last years vintage (his first) was almost entirely sold to the Japanese market and a couple of places in Berlin.

The white wine cuvée is made with which are mostly planted together in the vineyard. With 2017 being a difficult year for wine in Germany this one still shows all the potential. For those of you that haven’t had much orange wine, this is a very light example, because two-thirds of the grapes are left with their skins for two weeks to ferment which adds some good structure and tannins (the bitter stuff) to the wine. The Riesling and Silvaner juices are added after the initial skin fermentation and then all are left for 10 months in barrels. This also makes it an amazingly flexible food wine which you can have with spicy Chinese food, but also with a simple roast chicken.

Claus Preisinger
2017 Blaufränkisch Kalkstein

Blaufränkisch
Burgenland, Austria

When you see the minimal labels of Claus Preisinger, you’d probably think it’s a small independent producer from Burgenland. Yes, he’s independent and works bio-dynamically, but he actually owns 19 hectares of vineyards, which makes him one of the more significant producers of natural wine in the area. He started already in 1999 and has since then continuously evolved how he makes wine and is currently making extremely reliable and well-made wines.

This red wine is made with Blaufränkisch, the second most popular grape variety in Austria. Some people say it’s very similar to Pinot Noir, just better. And for this wine, I couldn’t agree more. It’s very straightforward to drink and will make you want more of those slightly unripe blackberries and raspberries mixed with a very harmonious spiciness. I mean, have it with whatever you feel like, but this might also be good with some proper meat heavy Christmas dish.

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